Durbin's Earmark Problem


Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) reacted with derision at statements made by Sen. Dick Durbin on WUIS Radio, in which he opened the door to the resurrection of congressional earmarking, specifically for transportation funding, which is coming up for reauthorization at the end of fiscal year (FY) 2014. Sen. Durbin’s statement is the latest in a disturbing trend among members of Congress from both sides of the Capitol and both sides of the aisle. The congressional earmark moratorium has been in place since 2010, and the House and Senate have both claimed all legislation since then has been earmark-free. However, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), which has been issuing the Congressional Pig Book since 1991, has nonetheless found earmarks in the FY 2014 omnibus appropriations bill. The 2014 Congressional Pig Book will be released on May 7.

“a much better and more positive feeling…”

While the number and cost of earmarks has decreased substantially from past years, according to CAGW’s analysis of both the 2012 and 2014 appropriations bills, those figures would explode into thousands of earmarks and tens of billions of dollars if Sen. Durbin and other earmark enthusiasts get their way. Sen. Durbin stated that “earmarks should have been reformed, not eliminated….[T]o think that somebody sitting at a desk in Washington, D.C. can appreciate the significance of a local transportation project for the economy, for businesses and creating jobs, I think members of Congress in both parties, as well as senators, can make a valuable input.” In that case, perhaps members of Congress should earmark everything and eliminate those pesky bureaucrats. Sen. Durbin apparently believes that earmarks are the solution to all of the partisan acrimony in Washington, because they would create “a much better and more positive feeling…” since members have “just drifted apart because of this so-called Tea Party reform.”

Fortunately for taxpayers, the election of more fiscal conservatives has prevented some of the profligate spending in Washington. In fact, they were elected because taxpayers were sick of unaccountable, business-as-usual logrolling, rampant profligate spending, and secretive insider-trading of taxpayer-funded pork.

“Just like the Easter Bunny, Sen. Durbin wants members of Congress to again hide pork-barrel goodies under every legislative shrub they can find,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “His call for more transportation earmarks is ironic since the FY 2005 transportation bill contained more than 6,000 earmarks costing $24 billion, including the Bridge to Nowhere. In fact, the Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General issued a report in 2007 citing the disruptive impact of earmarks on higher priority projects, including air traffic control towers and highway repairs. If earmarks are revived in Congress, it will be a sad commentary on the moral compass of the institution.”

Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation’s largest taxpayer watchdog dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse in government.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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